ReRemains of Ala. soldier killed in Korean War finally home 63 - WFXG FOX 54 - News Now

Remains of Ala. soldier killed in Korean War finally home 63 years later

The remains of M SGT. Williams are returned to Alabama. (Photo Courtesy: WBRC) The remains of M SGT. Williams are returned to Alabama. (Photo Courtesy: WBRC)
M SGT. Olen Williams' remains will be returned to Alabama Thursday for burial beside family. His family has wanted to know where he was for 63 years. M SGT. Olen Williams' remains will be returned to Alabama Thursday for burial beside family. His family has wanted to know where he was for 63 years.
Dott Justiss Dott Justiss
CLANTON, AL (WSFA) -

An Alabama soldier's remains are finally home more than 60 years after he was killed in combat. Master Sergeant Olen Williams died while fighting in Korea.

Thursday morning around 10:00 an airplane touchdown at the Birmingham Shuttlesworth International Airport. Williams' flag-draped coffin was pulled from the belly of the plane and a military escort proceeded for approximately 50 miles down Interstate 65 where the Chilton County native will be buried.

Sunday, Williams will be buried alongside family.

Dot Justiss remembers the day her uncle Olen left for war. She was just 6-years-old then.

"Momma and all of us went up to Grandpa's house, and we had lunch and just visited with him," Justiss recalled. "Everybody was happy and he was playing around and laughing and joking with everybody."

But the happiness was short lived. Less than a year later Dott found a letter in the mailbox from the military. It informed the family that MSGT. Williams was missing in action.

"Momma started crying," Justiss recalled thinking back over all the years since the letter came.

Three years after the letter, the U.S. Army officially declared Williams dead, but they weren't able to identify his remains. The family was left without answers. "We pretty much had given up," Justiss said.

Then in March of 2013 Dott and her daughter, Tammy Richardson, attended a meeting for families of unaccounted soldiers lost during war.

"They asked us to give DNA," Richardson said of the meeting. The family sent in paper work and answered questions about MSGT. Williams. Then, in April the Army called to say they had positively identified their loved one's remains.

"I couldn't believe it," Justiss said after the decades-long wait. "We never in our wildest dreams thought, you know, that they would have located a body and been able to answer all of our questions we've had for 63 years," Richardson added.

The Chinese had handed over M SGT. Williams' remains to the U.S. in the 1950s, but since the military was unable to identify him, he was buried in the Punch Bowl in Hawaii, a national memorial cemetery.

All these years later, their soldier is coming home. It's a bittersweet homecoming for Dott, though. "It feels sad in a way, because his daddy and all his brothers and sisters didn't get to see him come home," she said.

Copyright 2013 WSFA 12 News.  All rights reserved.

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